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Public Service Minister Says Alberto August Should Step Down from E&B Commission

A few weeks ago we broke the story that PUP Senator Collet Montejo was appointed to the Elections and Boundaries Commission as the field supervisor for the redistricting exercise. The UDP claims it’s a clear conflict of interest and goes against the constitution. However, the Minister of Public Service, Constitutional and Political Reform, disagrees. Here is how he explained it today. 

Henry Charles Usher, Minister of Public Service: “It’s not a job in the public service it is a temporary appointment to a task force that will then advise the Elections and Boundaries Commission. Now remember the Elections and Boundaries Commission is bipartisan, there are two members there that were appointed by the Governor General upon the advice of the Leader of the Opposition so it is bipartisan and they are the ones that made that decision. Now in reference to whether that particular section of the constitution would apply to Mr.Montejo I looked at it, I read it over and that section deals with persons appointed to a post by law. I don’t see Mr.Montejo being appointed to any job or any post in the public service and it deals with public officers that have to do with conducting elections. For instance the Chief Elections Officer could not be a senator according to the constitution because she’s in charge of conducting elections. Similarly section B of that particular section of the constitution speaks about persons who have to do with the revising of electoral lists so any individual within the public service at Elections and Boundaries that deal with revising of the electoral list that person would not be able to serve as a senator under the constitution. Mr.Montejo is not in charge of elections, he’s not revising any election list, he is merely a technical part of a task force appointed by the Elections and Boundaries Commission so in my layman reading I don’t see it as being a conflict I think that they were trying to misdirect the fact that the work is being done by the redistricting task force and the Elections and Boundaries Commission is carrying out it’s duty according to the law.”

The UDP bitterly complained that Montejo’s appointment can poison the redistricting task. the party is calling for Montejo’s immediate removal. Minister Usher, says that UDP’s vice chairman Alberto August should be the one to step down.

Henry Charles Usher, Minister of Public Service: “You have to ask Alberto August how it is that he being the Deputy Chairman of the UDP sits on a commission that is supposed to be independent. He’s the deputy chairman of the opposition  he sits on the commission. They are the ones that will actually be putting together the recommendations that has to be laid to the National Assembly it’s not the task force. The task force is just a technical team so if anybody should not be there it should be Alberto August and I really believe that putting somebody so political we saw him at village council elections, we saw him get into certain extracurricular activities at these village council elections getting into different frakas there and scuffles there he’s the one that should really be stepping down from the commission in my opinion. Having somebody on a task force doing a technical job is completely different than actually sitting on the commission.”

 

Reporter: But the law allows for that to happen correct ? For the different parties to have political people on that commission.

 

Henry Charles Usher, Minister of Public Service: “Well it also says that the appointments have to be made by the Governor General and the persons who sit on the commission have to be independent and have to realize that if this is a commission that should not be biased. He is proving every single day with this posts, with the way he goes to these village councils that he is biased.”